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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as good ...., 27 Feb. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Rule of Evidence (Paul Sinclair Novel) (Mass Market Paperback)
As the first two in this series.
This is the third novel recounting the life of Paul Sinclair a Junior Officer in a space navy of the near future. To get much enjoyment from this novel, you will have had to read the first two books first, as this volume pretty much depends upon you knowing what has come before.
As in the previous stories the initial part of the book recounts some sort of adventure or misadventure in space and the second part of the book revolves around the legal action subsequent to that event.
What makes these stories good, is that the 'space navy' is really the backdrop to some exceptionally well written stories about people - well mainly Paul Sinclair - the characterisations are very very good - we know Paul, we know many of the people associated with him really well. The people are believable, the space scenes are believable and Paul is ... ethical/moral and likable.
So where has it 'dipped' this time. Perhaps we faithful readers of the first two books are now getting a bit too familiar with the military courts - perhaps getting a little bit jaded by this. But mainly I felt that the book was let down by two elements of its structure.
The first is, that it is very obvious from the start 'whodunnit' - this needn't be a bad thing in writing, sometimes it is nice to know who the 'guilty party' is and see the detective working his way towards it (this worked well in book 2) however this time it was so obvious, that I was thinking "com'mon Paul, it's not all that difficult .... the fault was with ...."
The second - and more annoying element - was the way that Paul wraps up the case - in just a few pages - with some help from his friends. It didn't seem too unlikely that it could be sorted out in just a few pages (after all, it wasn't that tricky to work out the culprit) but having spent half the book, not noticing the culprit, it just seemed unlikely that Paul would suddenly 'crack' the case. Actually a third vaguely annoying element was the author leaving some very obvious clues about what might be the forthcomming problem(s) in book four.
Perhaps we need a break from the courtroom and we could have a book just with Paul's Naval adventures? - that would be really good - or perhaps we just need a detective story that is harder for us to solve (to be fair to the author, at least he provides us with the info to solve the mystery, unlike some authors who hide all the key facts) But whaterver the reasons this book was to my mind, distinctly poorer than the first two.
Hemry is a good author, he makes his world very believable, and he is exceptionally good at characterisation - probably the best sci-fi writer I've read for this. So it would be a pity if this series started to lose its way.
This is a fairly good book, just not a great book (which the first two books in this series arguably were) and certainly worth reading (the books aren't all that expensive after all) - but read the other two books in the series first.
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